March 19, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The No. 22 Auburn gymnastics team (7-11, 2-4 SEC) finished sixth with a score of 195.325 at the 2011 SEC Gymnastics Championship Saturday night in Birmingham, Ala., at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Attendance was 8,025.
The Tigers finished behind No. 2 Alabama, top-ranked Florida, No. 8 Georgia, 11th-ranked Arkansas and No. 19 LSU, but defeated Kentucky.
"We did as good as we have done all year," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "It was our fourth highest score of the year at our toughest meet of the year. This is tougher than regionals. This is tougher than nationals and a longer meet than nationals. Basically you are in similar competition to what you would see at nationals. Four or five of these teams will go onto nationals. I couldn't be happier with how the girls did."
Auburn began the meet with a bye in the opening rotation before moving to vault for the second rotation. Sophomore all-arounder Toi Garcia led the Tigers with a 9.800, while junior all-arounder Kylie Shields and junior Justine Foster each posted scores of 9.750. Sophomore Petrina Yokay and junior Allyson Sandusky each added a 9.700, and senior Lauren Brzostowski scored a 9.675. Auburn finished with a 48.700 on the event, and took a third rotation bye.
The Tigers went to uneven bars on the fourth rotation. Shields and Yokay led for Auburn, each with a score of 9.800. Sandusky followed with a 9.775, while Garcia and senior Leah Vining each added a 9.725. Freshman Abbey Habicht rounded out the event for the Tigers with a 9.700, as they finished their second event with a 48.825.
Auburn proceeded to beam for the fifth rotation. Habicht tied her career high with a 9.825 to lead the Tigers. Sandusky posted a 9.775, while Garcia added a 9.750. Brzostowski and Shields each posted scores of 9.700, and senior Rachel Inniss scored a 9.200. Auburn posted a 48.750 on beam.
After a sixth-rotation bye, the Tigers moved to their last event on floor for the seventh and final rotation. Inniss led Auburn with a 9.875, and Garcia followed with a 9.850. Shields added a 9.800, and Foster posted a 9.775. Brzostowski earned a 9.750, and junior Laura Lane scored a 9.725.
Garcia posted a career-high 39.125 in the all-around to finish ninth.
"I was really excited," Garcia said. "I actually did what I practiced, and I think that is what I am most excited about. Mainly I focused on really having fun, and I think that is what really got me through. The crowd was really helpful too. I think we handled the pressure really well because the SEC is the biggest and the best. I think we did a really good job."
Shields finished with a 39.050 to tie for 10th in the all-around with LSU's Kaleigh Dickson.
"Overall I think I did pretty well," Shields said. "There were no big mistakes, just little things here and there so then we weren't getting the bigger scores. We didn't really show it how we wanted it to be, but overall I think we were all really consistent. We all did our jobs. It's a fun meet and high energy. The podiums are awesome. It's an amazing conference to be in."
Laura Lane was selected in a three-way tie for SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A junior in applied mathematics, Lane holds a 3.96 cumulative grade point average and has made the dean's list every semester. She joins Arkansas's Michelle Stout and Alabama's Kayla Hoffman in receiving the award.
"It felt amazing," Lane said. "We come to school, and our first job is academics, then athletics. To be recognized for a scholar-athlete award is incredible. That's what we work for. It takes a lot of discipline, and you have to be able to manage your time between practice and still doing your work. You just have to dedicate yourself and all your time to focus on your schoolwork when you are not focusing in the gym."
Kylie Shields was selected as a member of the 2011 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team. The Gymnastics Community Service Team represents seven SEC gymnasts, one from each competing institution. The team looks to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts.
Selections for the 2011 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships will be announced Monday, March 21.
Order of Finish 1. Alabama (197.225) 2. Florida (196.975) 3. Georgia (196.625) 4. Arkansas (195.800) 5. LSU (195.475) 6. Auburn (195.325) 7. Kentucky (193.950)